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In the News

Christmas cheer for gin distillers

Penny Brooks

17th December 2016

Sipsmith was one of the first artisan gins to become well known, and has led a growing market. As reported in this week's Deloitte Monday Briefing, annual gin sales rose 16% in the UK in 2016, with a record 40m bottles of the spirit sold over the past 12 months – enough to make roughly 28 gin and tonics for every adult in the UK. Craft distilleries have been an important part of this trend - perhaps building on the explosion of craft breweries, they are a great example of entrepreneurship spotting a gap in the market, setting up in tiny premises and using local ingredients and artisan techniques, this has even become a storyline in The Archers on Radio 4.

Small-scale distillers take advantage of social media to promote their product

It is a sign of a success when the big mass producers buy up the new entrants who have exploited a niche and started to become a threat to the mainstream market, in order to strengthen their product portfolio. Sipsmith has been bought by Beam Suntory, a Japanese conglomerate that owns premium spirits including Jim Beam Bourbon, Laphroaig malt whisky and Courvoisier cognac. Sam Galsworthy, on of Sipsmith's co-founders, is looking forward to seeing their brand taken to the global market. At the moment, two thirds of their output is sold in the UK, and as he told the BBC, eight years ago when they couldn't find a distributor, he was distributing the product himself on the back of a scooter from their distillery in the London suburb of Chiswick. Such is the drive and determination needed by a successful entrepreneur.

He is hoping that the sell-out to the world's third-largest distributor of spirits is not going to harm the reputation or image of the Sipsmith's brand. Although they have moved to larger premises, they still say that all of their product is hand-made in small batches, and this is an important USP in order to keep the customers in the young demographic which is attracted by the individuality of the product.

The price paid by Bean Suntory has not been disclosed, but presumably enough to bring the founders of Sipsmith a Merry Christmas!

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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